Friday, February 29, 2008

About Tim Goeglein

I watched with fascination on Friday as a post by a former Fort Wayne News Sentinel columnist, and current blogger, Nancy Nall, broke a story about plagiarism by current NS guest columnist (although, never again), Fort Wayne native, and White House staffer (now former), Tim Goeglein. I read the post about 8:30 a.m.; by the time I walked out of work at 4:30 p.m., Tim's resignation was being reported as a main story on CNN.

Watching the story develop was interesting, weird, and a little scary--the relentless, speeding, viral nature of it.

I posted a lot of updates about it to my Ft. Wayne blog, Common Sensibilties»

About Leap Day

It's a rather vaporous day, isn't it? Sometimes here, most times not.

In the paper on Thursday, the birthdays for Friday were listed in leap-years--for example, "Rapper Ja Rule is 8 (born in 1976)." I read another story online about a little girl who's 12...but celebrating her real birthday for the third time. And another lady was turning 19--in leap time. She's really 76. Read it here»

On, there's an article embracing the whimsy of February 29, calling it "a breather day, a day to catch up, a wild card...."

I wish. Because when I hauled my body out of bed this morning, it just seemed like one more day to go to work.

Do you know what the extra day is called in a leap year? "Intercalary."

Read a more than you want to know about leap years on:

Did you know that leap year is traditionally a time when women can propose marriage?»

Did you know that there is an Honor Society of Leap Year Babies?»

How can you figure out what year is a leap year? By using the Leap Year Calculator»

How to celebrate leap year? Of course there are online resources:

Why have a leap year (if you haven't visited any of the above links)? Because the actual length of a year is 365.242 days....

Need some leap year gifts? Oh yea, you can buy some»

Did you know there's a movie called Leap Year? Made in 1921»

Okay, enough.

How about you? How are you spending this intercalary day?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

About Oprah, again. Or still.

I'd blogged before about my aversion to Oprah--the magazine, that is. I've just had to quit reading it--I always feel kind of depressed and inadequate in the face of its unrelenting self-actualization.
And until we got the DVR, I didn't watch the show very often, either--it was on before I got home from work.
But now, not only can I DVR it, I can watch it at 10:30 p.m., after the early news. So I guess I'm becoming an Oprah-watcher.
But when she has a how on like How to Look Good Naked and this one: Shlumpadinka Makeovers, well, what can I say? Anyone who likes fashion is okay with me.
That one about the Shlumpadinkas, now that was fun. I love the 10 basics everyone should have, and the lady who recommended the Brooks Brothers white shirt--brilliant! I wanted one immediately and so did everyone else who saw it.
And a show with Carol Burnett on it--I grew up on The Carol Burnett Show! How could I resist THAT?
And last night, when I needed to get to bed, what did she have on? This: Exclusive: Valerie Bertinelli Comes Clean About Living a Lie! I mean, Valerie Bertinelli! EDDIE VAN HALEN! Sex, drugs, rock and roll, and weight loss. How do you turn that off? Thank goodness for the DVR.
And even this one had its moments: Raising Sextuplets and Twins, Plus Sean Combs and TV Legend Phylicia Rashad. Those sextuplets people--I think they need an intervention from Dr.Phil. Those kids don't act too happy, and the parents seem stressed.
I signed up for the Eckhart Tolle class--I'm afraid the book will be lame, but, technolgically speaking, I want to see how they do the class.
I cruised the "be on the show" listings--who knows when they'll need a 52-year-old blogger from Fort Wayne? I need to be ready--all the more reason to watch the show!
I only watched half of that Valerie Bertinelle show. I've got it on the DVR. Gotta go!
How about you? What are you watchin'?

Monday, February 25, 2008

About my addiction

I was reading a blog and someone commented on the whiteness of Tilda Swinton, best supporting actress Oscar winner:

"Tilda Swinton has never actually been out in the sunlight, has she? I know Great Britain is famously cloudy, but she’s as pale as one of those fish that only lives in the Marianas Trench. I’m a child of the pre-melanoma ’70s, but I never see skin that pale and think “luminous English rose.” Only 'fish-belly.'” (Read it all here on»)

And it was oh so familiar, because I have been looking in the mirror lately and thinking the same thing about myself--I'm looking rather cadaverous. Because it's that time of year. I'm so white, I look like I have Casper the Friendly Ghost in my gene pool.

And lately, I've been feeling the pull--yea, even the siren song--that I feel every late-winter: The pull to ... tan.

Oh, I know it's bad. I know I shouldn't. I know I'm risking my dermatological health. Yet, when it's been a week since you've seen the sun, and it's been cold as hell, and you have come against your wall of winter tolerance, the spirit is not very willing and the flesh is weaker.

I want to go to the tanning bed.

You know, I've had massages. Massages are supposed to feel good, and make you feel better throughout the day.

Massages make me feel good for about 5 minutes, about as long as it takes for me to stand up and put my clothes back on. That's how long it takes for all my muscles to spring back to their normal tense selves.

But 20 minutes in the tanning bed ... now, that's relaxing to me. The white noise of the bed. The fan. The little eye protectors shielding me from carcinoma of the eye at worst or cataracts at best. The warmth that gets better and better the longer the bed is on. And it's a warmth that lingers with me for hours after. And just the light -- I seem to hunger for the light, as I do for chocolate.

And that little hint of color that makes me look less dead ... priceless.

Really, I don't tan well. I'm so thoroughly white, the whiteness shines through even when I have a veneer of tan. I kind of "beige," rather than "tan."

And I feel guilty about tanning--so guilty that I limit myself to once a week or so, and use some Jergen's Glow Lotion (or whatever) to further fake my tropical-ness.

I've got some minutes left from last year, so if I get a free lunch hour this week, I'm off. They'll only let me in for 10 minutes the first time. That'll fly by. So maybe I'll sneak in again, for the full 20, a couple days after.

And I'll get my Magic Glow lotion out, and start the process of coming alive for the summer.

You know what? I've read a lot lately that people aren't getting enough sun--we've become so scared of it, we're killing ourselves for lack of vitamin D.

So while I'm waiting for the real sun to come out (July?) I'll settle for a little fluorescent luminescence, and err on the side of short sessions and sunscreen.

How about you? Are you longing for some rays?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

About your TV poll results

Not many respondents, but two of us have American Idol as our TV indulgence.

About stuff I'd change if I could

And I DON'T mean heavy stuff, like world peace for all.Cos that's on someone else's blog.

I mean stuff to get you though the day, like:

When I drive up to my garage door, it opens just by me thinking "open" -- kind of like Microsoft Sync, only using the voices in my head. Hey, they've been annoying me for years -- why not put them to good use? Must I really put my cell phone down to push the remote button? Because I'm trying to text somebody something important that really can't wait one minute.

Anti-static spray that would repel EVERYTHING off of me--latte/tea/Diet Coke spots (and that Tide Pen commercial on TV is too true), white cat hairs, "pills," fuzz, lint, dirt, dandruff (not that I have any), crumbs, and unknown substances of all types. Oh! And that makes me smell really good, like cinnamon buns, maybe.

A mailbox lock that does not freeze, making it impossible for me to get my mail. And when I call the post office to tell them, they will say pleasantly, "Oh, I am so sorry your mailbox lock has frozen. Your neighborhood mail carrier will happily put your mail on your porch. Or you may stop by the branch and pick it up. Which is more convenient for you?" They will NOT say, "Well, you just have to wait for it to defrost" -- in what, JULY!!?? Have these people been talking to my newspaper carrier?

A paper carrier who understands what "Vacation Hold" means, and picks up clues that, even if they have not noticed they received one, there may indeed be one to follow. Which does NOT mean, stuff as many papers as possible in the tube, then let papers pile up around the base, so my neighbor has to get them. All this despite the fact I've called, emailed, and notified the newspapers AND them by every way short of smoke signals that will we are out of town for a week. Does not two or three days of papers not being picked up give the carrier even A CLUE that he might have to check to see is a VACATION HOLD has been placed? It seems not.

Changeable signage on my car that will alert people when: they have neglected to use their turn signals; exceeded the speed limit when passing me by more than 10 miles per hour; are participating in more than two of the following: smoking, and/or texting, and/or eating and/or putting on makeup and/or reading and/or looking at the floor of their car; have cut too closely in front of me (esp. with no turn signal); have pulled in front of me (esp. in Huntington County); are riding my rear bumper; have grabbed the parking space I was waiting for; are waiting too long for a parking space someone else is pulling out of; seem to be too short to drive--I can't see their head above the seat; are too young to drive, this would include all teenagers, who often are guilty of the third complaint; they neglect to turn their headlights on when it is dark, foggy, snowing, raining, or dangerous in any way. My sign MAY just include bad words for extreme situations, and perhaps even graphics, if you get my drift.

Oh there's more. That's why I have a blog.

How about you? How are you gonna change the world?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

About, winter is so over

For me, anyway, and I call tell you exactly when it happened: 3:45 p.m. on Monday, February 11. On Broadway. In New York City.
We Hoosiers had brought not just ourselves and our luggage to the city--we'd brought the coldest temperatures New Yorkers had seen this winter. Lucky us! Lucky them! No one thanked us, though.
After a day of seminars, our group of five took off walking from our hotel, also on Broadway, down that "Great White Way" to the Historic Ed Sullivan Theater. We were on standby to see the Letterman show being filmed, and had to be in front of the little souvenir shop by 3:30.
Three of our party were standby numbers 12, 13, and 14; another co-worker and I were 20 and 21. That did not bode well, I knew.
The street was alive with frozen New Yorkers; everyone in dark coats and scarves around their faces and quick steps. The temperature was in the teens, and the wind, funneled by those tall buildings, was more than brisk--we were walking Popsicles.
A frigid little group of Letterman wannabees were waiting when we arrived, and we chatted and took pictures as we waited. I lost the feeling in my nose and ears, having left my ear warmers in my room.
A few minutes passed, and a young woman with a clipboard came out of the shop; I crossed my fingers. We'd been hoping the cold had kept people away.
"I need numbers one through 14 to line up over here; get your ID out!" she ordered. "The rest of you I don't need!"
Crash. If I was cold before, I was frozen now. No Letterman for me -- no top 10 list, no Paul Shafer, no Dave. Just a long shivery disappointed walk back to the Marriott.
We'd walked about a block when it hit me: I was sick of winter. Sick of the cold, of the wind, of the potential for frostbite. I was ready for winter to be over, in Indiana, and in New York City. If I couldn't go to Letterman...I wanted it to at least be warm. I wanted to be able to enjoy the lights, the shows, the shops, the people. Instead, I just wanted to GET WARM.
NYC got worse before it got better, on our trip--the next day, while it was slightly warmer, it started snowing, and everything got slushy--later, it kind of sleeted, then got mixed, then just poured. Our flight home was delayed on Wednesday.
Winter's far from over, officially, but it's done for me...and anyway, I always celebrate March 1 as the beginning of meteorological spring. Only 11 days!
How about you? Are you done with winter?

Monday, February 18, 2008

About how good an ordinary day can be

It's when you get to sleep in a little, but not too much, 'cause while you need a little extra sleep, you don't want to waste the day.
It's when your husband goes outside to get the paper, then goes to get you pancakes and scrambled eggs, which means you don't have to cook.
It's when you have a minute to get your weekend chores started, like the laundry, and linen-changing, but know you've got more fun things to do.
It's when you go to a basketball game with a gym full of parents and kids, and not one person gets mad at a referee or a child. And your grandson makes some good passes and scores some baskets and, best of all, has a big smile on his face practically the entire time.
It's when you go out for lunch with your family and the two-year-old sleeps through the whole thing, and the four-year-old swipes the fries and eats all the pepperoni and wears her new purse over her shoulder the whole time, and it's full of Pokemon figures, her sparkly hand lotion, and a pretend hair dryer.
It's when you take an hour or so to help your daughter get her house picked up for a get-together in the evening, and you listen to Little Einsteins while you pick up toys and put clothes away. And you talk about what the kids are doing and which friends are coming over and "where do you want me to put THIS?"
It's when you go home and get some more chores down, like even MORE laundry!, and the dishes, and sweep the kitchen, and vacuum, and put away all the papers on the kitchen table that seem to appear magically EVERY WEEK!
It's when your son and daughter-in-law and baby Kenna come over for a "slumber party," and Kenna is in fine almost-two-year-old form, using the sectional sofa as her runway/trampoline. And you babysit for a bit after she goes to bed and her parents go to meet some old friends for a birthday celebration. And you watch I.U. basketball, under a cloud of embarrassment all week, play a great game and beat Michigan State.
It's when you go to bed, tired, but suddenly aware you've had a Saturday about as good as an ordinary Saturday gets.
How about you? How was your Saturday?

Friday, February 15, 2008

About when you go to New York City

When you go to New York City, maybe you become someone that usually you're not. Maybe you're better looking, or cooler, or smarter, or even younger.
Maybe, when you go to New York City, you decide to change your name, because when your name is "Cathy," everyone knows you are a middle-aged woman born in the '50s, or so. And that's okay, but maybe you just feel like being someone different. Or maybe I mean better, or maybe, more interesting.
So maybe, before you go to New York City, you decide that your new nickname will be "Kit," because that seems maybe cooler and hipper and, you know, sophisticated.
And maybe your family thinks this is a hoot when you tell your plan, and your son says, "Mom, it's just really lame to give yourself a nickname."
Lame exercise, or master of one's destiny?
So maybe you really do begin feeling a little more Kit-ish as your plane swings around and you see the city below, and the lights are the universe and it's a place maybe you could be a Kit in.
And you climb in a cab and say, "Times Square" and there you go past landmark after landmark and oh my gosh, you're on CENTRAL PARK WEST, it's a real place and not just a set on Sex In the City. (And also, OH MY GOSH, the cab almost hit that lady crossing the street.)
And just seeing that sign by the park makes you feel thinner and younger and better-dressed and thinking that a friend named "Kit" might have fit in with the Sex In the City girls.
And then we're driving down Broadway and it's all bright lights, big city, and even though the frigid weather has traveled, too, from Fort Wayne to NYC, the streets are full of people going somewhere and everywhere, and here you are with them -- me, "Kit" -- and wherever the city's energy comes from, suddenly, you've got it too. And even though you've been traveling all. day. long. you want to change clothes and go somewhere fun and have a drink and be witty and laugh and feel very ... not Cathy-ish. Carrie-ish.
When you are in NYC, it's easy to forget you're a Hoosier/Buckeye kind of girl, and pretend for a day or three that you're at home in Manhattan. And as you're walking down Broadway, you are at home, because in your black coat and slacks and with a scarf around your face, you blend in with every other frigid pedestrian.
And for three days, as you go to conference seminars and run around the hotel and go out for dinner in very cool places and look out at Times Square from your hotel room, it's easy to be Kit. It's easy to be anyone you want to be, somehow.
Back on the plane, flying home from LaGuardia, do you feel Kit slipping away from you, and Cathy sneaking in again?

Nah--we're all me. I'm pretty well integrated, and comfortable in my skin. Call me what you will, I'll always be (mostly) Cathy. And really, those Sex In the City girls live about as alien a lifestyle from me as if they were from another planet. It's fun to play, though--kind of like playing dress-up when you're little.
How about you? What's your new label?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

About, what day may come

a slight, silver sky--thin snow--chill
Thursday: February: 2008
what comes this day?
if written on my calendar
dates made to be broken
no guarantee I'll be there
opportunities do come
telephones ring
text me, or email
plans change
sometimes on purpose
some, not
every night, same:
face, teeth, read, light
every. night.
morning: light, face,
every. morning.
brain reviews calendar
and packs lunch, and
out the door...
then comes this day
chill, thin snow, silver sky
what day may come?

What comes this day for you?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fiinal results on "how are you keeping warm" poll

Snuggling: 3
Space heater: 1
Warming beverages: 3

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

About 'the salad days, the halcyon years'

From "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books, 2006):
Those were the salad days, the halcyon years! The sleepless nights, the wailing babies; the days the interior of the house looked like it had been hit by a hurricane; the times I had five kids, a chimpanzee, and a wife in bed with fever. Even when the fourth glass of milk got spilled in a single night, or the shrill screeching threatened to split my skull, or when I was bailing out some son or other -- or, in one memorable instance, Bobo -- from a minor predicament at the police station, they were good years, grand years.
Isn't that what we wish every year could be? "Good years, grand years." Do we know these "salad days" while they are happening? Or is it only from the vantage of time -- as the narrator is an old man, looking back -- that we realize how "halcyon" our days have been?

Today--how was it for you? Did you drag your butt out of bed, slug your coffee, and settle your butt into your office chair (or where-ever), calculating how many hours until lunch, then until home? Was the highlight of your day when the email came around that said "come get donuts"? Did you have to go to your inner happy place (for hours) as you plugged away at your computer? Did you just need to crash when you finally got home, exhausted by...not much of anything?

Maybe you're not getting enough salad.

"Water for Elephants
" is about the circus, about a young man who leaves veterinary school to, literally, run off with the big top, and his months with the menagerie and the performers and the workmen change the course of his life. I'm thinking maybe it's easier to have a grand life when your past includes an elephant named Rosy and a chimpanzee named Bobo.

I'm feeling a little gray--it's been foggy for two days, and raining some of it, and I really miss the sun. Lent starts tomorrow, and when you work in a Catholic environment, you know that means six weeks of everyone "giving up" something--they really take that "fasting and abstinence" seriously. And, the groundhog saw its shadow last Saturday. Remember how long I thought January was, and that it might be a good thing?

Well I was wrong.

I did really enjoy "Water for Elephants" -- it's really fun to discover a new writer you like. And you know what? I get to go to New York City again next week! Oh, and March 1--it's only 24 days away! Meteorological spring!

Yea I'll talk myself out of it.

How about you? How halcyon are your days?

Monday, February 4, 2008

About what I saw at the Y

In the locker room I see cute little high school girls with slim waists and fake-bake tans and cell phones stuck to their ears and long, straight hair, wearing Daisy Dukes that say "cheerleader" on the butts, and tight camis. And I kill a swift longing for my own long-gone sixteen-year-old self, and try to recognize the face that looks back at me in the mirror by the door.
And today everybody on the track is going left from the door and I step off lively to blend in with the power walkers and the runners from the college, who are doing power laps.
Ahead of me is a lady who usually walks with a friend, and I see them all the time, talking earnestly and continually, and always passing me, and I stare at them, because they rarely laugh or even smile, and I wonder, what the HECK do you talk about everyday that is so dang serious? Today this lady is by herself, very strange, and even odder, when I pass her, she smiles. I like her haircut, but don't know her to tell her so. And I walk on.
From the track you can see the foyer, the machines, the gyms, the spinning room, the gymnastics room, all on the inside; and out the windows, the park, the pond, the parking lots. Today I'm not seeing much outside--too foggy. Last week, I watched two kids walk on the icy pond, wondering if the ice were thick enough to hold them (it was).
But there's plenty to see inside.
Mostly today I am noticing all the conversations. In the foyer there's nearly always a group or two of people chatting way, sometimes, for the whole half-hour I walk. Sometimes it's two or three women--maybe they're waiting for kids to be done in dance class, or tae-kwon-do?--and sometimes it's a man and a woman, like one day last week. They talked and talked, laughing, looking serious, focused. How did they know each other? What were they talking about? I wished I had a pair of the Weasleys' Extendable Ears.
Today I watched a lady talking to a guy on a stepper machine (they were really into their conversation, too, and it went on for over half an hour) and I wondered, how the heck does he have the breath to work that stepper and talk at the same time, for so long?
And I watched the coach of the college kids encouraging them, calling out times as they passed, and then talking to each runner as they completed their laps and peeled off into the open area.
I watched two people sitting on the bench by the stairs not talking to each other, as an older lady and a middle-aged man waited for someone to get done with ... something.
The two young women with heavy hips who'd walk, then jog, then walk, then jog, talking all the time. Would they be short-termers, New Years' resolution-type people, working out at top speed for a month, then dropping out as busy-ness overcomes them? Or would I be seeing them into the spring, getting smaller and smaller? (And running faster and faster?) Stay tuned.
And here are those high-school girls from the locker room, me passing them, as they amble around the track, more focused on their social life than their walking speed.
And towards the end of my many laps, the crowd starts to gather in the spinning room, or, as I think of it in my head: the torture chamber. Because when those people get spinning, they all look like they are about to die, cheered on by the unbelievably perky, well-turned-out instructor and accompanied by a wide sampling of energetic '80s music. Today I spot someone I know adjusting her bike before the class, but I refrain from rapping on the window to get her attention. She might be in her last few moments, and I don't want to scare her. I'm glad my walk gets done before the spinning starts--that class wears me out, even though I'm just passing by.
A half-hour of observation and I'm done--back in the locker room it's mostly moms and little kids, stripping down to swim, the room full of instructions like "Take your shoes off" and "Put your clothes in here" and "You have to go potty! NOW!"
I'm ready to go--I've not had any conversations here, except the made-up ones in my head. Next time I'll remember new batteries for my radio, and maybe I won't be so interested in other peoples' lives.
Or, maybe I will.
How about you? What conversations have you overhead?

Friday, February 1, 2008

About, turn the page

I wrote previously of the way January lingers on my calendar, in a way no other month of the year does.
Today, though, I must turn the page, and comes now February, and then, and then.
Since I was a teenager, I've kept some kind of calendar or organizer, and on it I keep my appointments and obligations, and I'll jot notes of what I did or where we had lunch or whatever went on of a day.
If my high school Hallmark calendar booklet had things like "4pm, band practice" and "4th period, student council," my 21st-century version has things like "9am, mammogram" and "4pm, pick up grandkids at babysitter."
Who knew.
If my little notebook's month past looks like so many chicken scratches--every day filled with some reminder or outing or due date--and it's only through that month's scratchy notes that I can even remember how we filled our busy days--there is a certain satisfaction in turning a new leaf, and beginning again with a month of empty squares, waiting to be filled with the minutiae of my life.
And even before the month begins, the squares begin to fill with "dentist's appointment," and "Jayme's birthday" and "basketball game" and "vacation!"
And if there is potential in every empty day, there is also danger; while last Tuesday might have been "doctor's appointment," next Thursday might be "followup tests," and who knows what goes beyond that? With grace and luck, it's just "dinner out, Appleby's" and the pages turn again.
So today, I must say goodbye to January, loved and hated, the longest month of the year, but the coldest, whose beginning is the end of the holiday season, and whose end leaves us longing for spring, always a new beginning.
So I turn the page: so long, January. What will fill my squares in this new month?
How about you? How are your pages turning?